• February 13, 2020
  • Catagory Multi-Cloud

Public cloud platform choice should be guided by business needs

By : Justin Folkerts

There’s a lot to be said for having a single public cloud platform for all mission critical workloads, especially if it’s through managed service provider because you know who to hold accountable if something goes wrong.

Different public cloud platforms have their unique strengths and should be chosen based common business and user requirements, as well as niche workloads

But the rise of multi-cloud reflects that different public cloud platforms have their unique strengths and are better at some things than others. Some are geared for high a volume of transactions with reliability for busy periods, while others are better for low priority workloads, such as backups. Some public cloud platforms require a great deal of technical know how from the customer, while others have easy to use drag and drop interfaces.

You might use one platform for business users to support collaboration, while another is more appealing to technical staff and developers working on custom applications that aren’t yet in production. Your industry and the nature of your business, as well as how your people are organized, also influence what public cloud platform make the most sense for you.

Balance standardization with niche needs

If you’re an SMB, then you’re probably looking for the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to public cloud platforms. Even if you have the budget for multiple instances, you want to make sure they’ll improve productivity without making your IT team work harder or require a great deal of user support.

For general collaboration, you’re going to want something that’s easy to onboard users regardless of location and has a straightforward pricing model. This is especially true for organizations with multiple locations spread across a city, province or even across the country. Real estate, for example, includes brokers, agents and property managers geographically dispersed and handling a wide array of tasks and client information, and they will need to be productive on the go. Charities and other not-for-profit organizations, meanwhile, are particularly resource-constrained, so they want something that requires little technical management.

Either Microsoft Office 365 or Google Docs are likely to tick all the boxes for most general collaboration and productivity needs, including email integration to keep people in touch. However, there may be some business users who have specific needs, such as sales and marketing, so you’re possibly looking at another public cloud instance for a CRM tool. The good news is that many public cloud platforms from different vendors do play nice and offer integrations, so they will work well in tandem.

If you can standardize on a select number of public cloud platforms for business users, you’ll make productivity gains while lowering your total cost of ownership and keep IT staff freed to work on other projects. However, certain user groups within the organization may have specific, niche requirements.

Pick the right public cloud platform for the right workload

Cloud-based collaboration and communications are table stakes for most organization, but certain industries turn to public cloud platforms for workloads that are unique and often seasonal.

Despite being resource constrained, charities and other not-for-profit organizations may have busy seasons for donations that require a robust technology infrastructure to support online donations. Similarly, the education sector has busy periods where prospective students are bombarding them with applications. Municipal governments also have their busy seasons, such as registration for seasonal community programs, while retail must be sure their e-commerce and point of sale systems are ready for the spike in shopping from Black Friday to Boxing Day Week.

These workloads tend to be a little more unique. Unlike collaboration tools where features and ease of use and management are deciding factors, other compute and storage needs of SMBs are all different and heavily influenced by the nature of their respective industry and regulatory environment. Reliability and redundancy are especially critical, and given that these workloads are most customized, require technical expertise to deploy them on the most appropriate public cloud platform.

A multi-cloud strategy enables organizations to leverage the ideal public cloud platform for the right business need. Although some can be set up easily with and run with little IT support, others might benefit from the expertise of a managed service provider who can help you get the most from your public cloud deployments.

  • January 27, 2020
  • Catagory Multi-Cloud

Multi-cloud security includes securing public cloud instances

By : Justin Folkerts

Effective, robust multi-cloud security can’t be an afterthought. Securing public cloud instances is one of many significant operational considerations when embracing a multi-cloud strategy.

By making multi-cloud security an upfront priority, you prevent a lot of headaches that would inevitably pop up down the road, including interoperability issues. It also gives you a template for best practices and policy when securing public cloud instances in the future.

Draw a map of your multi-cloud security

Effectively securing public cloud instances should be guided not only by today’s needs from the platform but also how it might meet future business requirements as part of a broader multi-cloud environment. You need to align your business drivers for running multiple clouds with a security strategy so you can reduce—if not eliminate—weak links that can lead to data breaches and non-compliance with regulatory requirements and privacy legislation.

Define cloud workload security requirements

Multi-cloud’s reason for being reflects the trend toward lines of business and different areas of IT wanting to use the best cloud for the workload based on feature and performance needs. But multi-cloud security is no different than hybrid cloud environments in that you must keep in mind data confidentiality, integrity and availability.

Evaluate built-in cloud security features

Each public cloud platform comes with its own built-in security controls but securing public cloud instances will vary from provider to provider, even if the service is the same. How Amazon Web Services (AWS) secures a backup service offering will differ from that of Microsoft Azure, for example, so make you must understand the embedded security controls and tools for each cloud platform, and which ones are switch on by default, such as data encryption. Once you’ve established foundational multi-cloud security, you can augment appropriately on a per-platform basis.

Layer on additional security as needed

Multi-cloud security requires consistency. Once you understand what’s already built into the various cloud platforms you’ve spun up for each workload, you can add more layers, including third party tools, so you’re always applying global security policy automatically no matter how your multi-cloud environment grows or changes. Automation is critical to effectively securing public cloud instances in a scalable manner that keeps your overall environment manageable.

Multi-cloud security means 24/7 monitoring

Securing public cloud instances in a hybrid model usually means relying on security tools from a specific provider or one you’ve selected for monitoring your on-premises environment. Multi-cloud security means you must maximize visibility across your entire portfolio of cloud deployments and any other systems with which they may interact.

Multi-cloud security requires significant forethought if you’re achieve and maintain the necessary visibility to mitigate risk and meet today’s ongoing compliance and regulatory pressures. Securing public cloud instances in a multi-cloud environment also means knowing for certain who’s responsibility for what and establishing practices so you can scale and automate security with the pace of business and a cloud-first strategy.

Choosing the right public cloud is tough enough even when you’re only looking to migrate a single application. Figuring out the right mix for a multi-cloud environment brings with it a much more complex set of considerations.

When building your multi-cloud environment, choosing the right public cloud should be guided by business requirements and a managed IT services provider

It doesn’t help matters that there’s a lot more choices. The major providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Oracle Cloud, are all offering an increasingly diverse set of services. And as the transition to on-demand IT in a multi-cloud environment accelerates, choosing the right public cloud, or multiple ones, can be overwhelming for an IT decision maker.

Find balance in multi-cloud

There’s an appealing simplicity about selecting a single cloud platform that will meet all your needs, but a multi-cloud environment means you’re not fully dependent on a single vendor. In the same way there’s value in having a best-of-breed approach to applications to meet specific business needs, so too is there in taking a best-in-class approach to multi-cloud providers.

Choosing the right public cloud should be guided by business requirements and lead to best provider for the task at hand. Some applications and data sets may require especially high transfer speeds, while others prioritize maximize uptime in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Your multi-cloud environment should ultimately reflect how you need to do business, rather than changing your processes to match how the cloud provider operates.

Improve security and resilience to mitigate risk

Choosing the right public cloud can help you bolster security and your organization’s overall resilience if you can effectively match your requirements as you build out your multi-cloud environment.

When it comes to security, cloud providers can potentially bring a lot to the table. In addition to securing their own infrastructure, they can apply the same capabilities to your mission-critical data. However, a multi-cloud environment still means there’s a shared responsibility for security, so make sure who’s responsible for what.

In addition to shoring up your security, a multi-cloud environment can add resilience through redundant backup and recovery to ensure business continuity when disaster strikes, whether it’s something small and simple such as hardware failure or large-scale natural disaster. By choosing a cloud platform that improves both your security and resilience, you can better manage risk, and a multi-cloud environment means that if one provider runs into problems, you can turn to another to quickly take over.

Choosing the right public cloud adds agility

The ability for one provider to take over from another supports another key benefit of a multi-cloud environment—agility. The whole point of multi-cloud environments is you can mix and match, and any providers you ultimate select should work together seamlessly so you can flexibly invest in each platform based on application and data needs driven by business growth.

Building your own multi-cloud environment can seem overwhelming, but an experienced managed IT services provider can help with choosing the right public cloud for each workload and help you weave different ones together to achieve flexibility and scalability.

Supra ITS has a long history of helping customers get the most from their Oracle investments, but we realized it was important for us to step up our game. After years of experience as an Oracle Worldwide Gold partner, we’re now an Oracle Managed Service Provider (MSP)—one of the few in Canada. The Oracle MSP certification reflects our managed hybrid cloud focus while aligning with Oracle’s strategy to move their customer base to the cloud.

Our Oracle MSP designation reflects our belief that as full-service technology partner it’s essential we understand both the application and infrastructure layers. We provide implementation and transition services on our customers’ premises, our private cloud or in the Oracle public cloud.Supra ITS is uniquely suited to offer its Oracle services not only in the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) space, but also in Oracle cloud applications offerings. Our expertise managing infrastructure as well as applications gives Supra ITS an edge over other Oracle partners who do not have the breadth of experience across both.

Ready for the Oracle Public Cloud in Canada

If you’re looking to move your Oracle environments to the cloud you now have an Oracle partner that can provision and manage your IaaS and PaaS requirements—especially ideal if you’re looking to move to the Oracle Cloud, whether it’s Cloud Machine behind your firewall or the Oracle Public Cloud. Most of all, we provide the resources and expertise so you can easily ramp up your Oracle cloud adoption without breaking the bank.

You don’t have to be an existing Oracle customer either. If you’re looking at greenfield opportunities to leverage Oracle’s IaaS/PaaS and Public Cloud, we can help get you started. We also offer shared support services for Oracle ERP in the cloud, as well as implementation and support for other popular Oracle applications such as human capital management, supply chain management and Hyperion.

Of course, a key piece of the Oracle foundation has also been its database, so Supra ITS also provides shared support services for Oracle Core DBA as well as Oracle Apps DBA. We provide DBA Management capabilities, so you don’t get bogged down with the patching, tuning and diagnostics activities. Instead, your DBA staff can focus driving new business value by building new analytics capabilities.

Ultimately, being recognized as an Oracle MSP means you have a partner that can support the entire spectrum of services you need to get the most from your Oracle applications, both in terms of resource efficiencies and bottom-line business benefits.

For more information about our what our Oracle MSP designation means for you, check out our FAQ.

Arun Prakash is executive vice president of Supra ITS.

  • January 25, 2018
  • Catagory Hybrid Cloud

Ready to take the fast lane to the public cloud?

Risk, security and speed are the three elements we find small- and mid-sized enterprises are most concerned about as they ponder moving data or applications to the public cloud.

That’s why Supra ITS recently made the investment to let customers connect directly to Amazon Web Services (AWS) using AWS Direct Connect and to Microsoft Azure using ExpressRoute. These “fast lanes” to two major public cloud platforms are being offered at no extra cost for our customers as part of their managed hybrid cloud that’s already managed by us.

Selection and Security

As major cloud vendors such as Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle and Google expand their footprint on Canadian soil, we’re seeing that interested customers want flexibility – they’re not picking only one vendor. Rather, they’re using multiple cloud platforms depending on the data or the workload. For example, AWS is popular for elastic storage, while Microsoft Azure’s appeal is the ability to run AWS workloads. At the same time, customers are continuing to maintain their own private clouds, either on-premise or managed by someone else. Most likely, they are combining all three in a hybrid model.

The fact that the major public cloud players are opening Canadian facilities means they’re addressing the data sovereignty issue that keeps many organizations from embracing public cloud. Now they can be assured their data stays in Canada, whether it’s on the move or being stored. Our part of the equation is that we have Tier 3 data centres in Canada that connect to these cloud platforms. We’ll soon make available similar direct connections to Oracle and Google public cloud infrastructure.

The Last Piece of the Public Cloud Puzzle

Offering direct connections to Amazon using AWS Direct Connect and to Microsoft Azure using ExpressRoute is the last piece of the puzzle that address the risk, security and speed. These direct, secure connections to major public cloud platforms are part of Supra ITS’ overall commitment to helping customers be “public cloud neutral.” It enables our customers to embrace a true hybrid cloud model that is fast and secure because data is not being transferred over the public internet.

Reduced latency and improved performance, of course, are the obvious benefits of a direct connection to the public cloud. But in this era of frequent data breaches and increased privacy regulation, security can be a deal breaker when companies consider moving to AWS or Azure. By putting in place these fast lanes to the public cloud, combined with our existing end-to-end security that spans our customers’ on-premise IT infrastructure, the public cloud services and our own data centres, we’re able to mitigate the risk of public cloud adoption.

Set-up costs for the connections are normally included as part of transition services for Supra ITS’ managed IT customers, and the ongoing costs are included for those customers where we manage their private and public cloud. Other AWS and Azure costs are extra and depend upon the usage.

A Partner for Public Cloud Success

Cloud computing is no longer the future, it’s reality. As noted by research firm InfoTech, there’s been lots of hype about cloud, but the adoption trends are real, and Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are leading the charge. At the same time, private clouds – both — on-premises and in hosted services – continue to grow. This presents an opportunity to transform IT to be an effective broker of services from the hybrid cloud.

At Supra ITS, we see our role as being a guide and resource for small- and mid-sized enterprises that are looking at how best to incorporate public cloud into their overall cloud strategy, whether it’s Amazon, Microsoft, Google or Oracle. Our neutrality enables customers to combine their on-premise, private cloud and public cloud deployments to fully take advantage of the full benefits of a managed hybrid cloud model.